Arduino® is an open source project consisting of several microcontroller boards and software for both the boards and personal computers. The system is designed to allow professionals and hobbyists to rapidly create new electronic devices. Several manufacturers offer kits for beginners, which often vary significantly in terms of included components, as well as price. The different types of Arduino® kits include barebones kits with few components, basic ones with starter parts, advanced starter sets with additional components, and specialized kits for specific projects.
The most basic kits are barebones Arduino® kits. This type of set usually includes only a Arduino® compatible board, a cable for programming, and a cable for power. Sometimes, a barebones kit will also include a few LEDs or other cheap components for the purpose of testing. It is generally only suitable for users who already own most of the components they will use in their Arduino® inventions. Barebones kits are the preferred collections for professionals and advanced hobbyists.
Compared to barebones kits, basic Arduino® kits are much more accessible to beginners. Although exact components will vary, most include a board, a variety of sensors, several types of actuators, and enough wires and cables to assemble a basic project. Actuators included with basic kits are generally limited to LED lights and speakers, but some sets may include small motors or servos as well. Instructions may also be included. This type of assortment is also known as an Arduino® starter kit.
Advanced starter kits include significantly more components than basic kits. Components may include a large number of sensors, switches, shields, headers, and wires. Some sets include additional input or output components such as motors, computer interfaces, or LCD screens. Advanced starter kits contain several dozen components and can be relatively costly.
Specialized Arduino® kits include an Arduino® board and components intended for a specific purpose. A robotics collection could include several motors and servos, wheels, a chassis, and all of the components found in a basic kit. Other specialized sets could include a wider variety of sensors, or special interfaces, such as WiFi® or Xbee®. These specialized kits are generally more expensive than other Arduino® kits.
Some manufacturers and individuals offer Arduino® kits that are designed to create specific devices. Examples of this type include complete robot kits from several manufacturers, electronic musical instrument kits, and kits for other devices. These complete packages are often created and sold by individuals. For this reason, they are not always available in bulk and may have longer order processing time than more mainstream commercial offerings.
Most kits come with an Arduino® board or a compatible board, but others contain only accessories. In these cases, the designer can purchase the microcontroller board separately. Different boards support different hardware, so it is important that consumers check the specifications of kits and boards. For example, some boards contain components that use the shield interface, which is found on many, but not all, Arduino® boards.